LA JOLLA, Calif. - University of California San Diego junior swimmer Reilly Boyt has returned to campus following Sunday's conclusion of the 2016 Rio Paralympics.
The native of Fort Collins, Colo. (Poudre HS), wrapped up her program of four individual events with five swims at Rio's Olympic Aquatics Stadium, totaling three personal records, one American record, and her first-ever appearance in a Paralympic final. She matched or bettered her seed in all four events.
Having participated in the Opening Ceremony the night of Wednesday, Sept. 7, Boyt had the honor of being the very first Team USA swimmer, male or female, to hit the water to begin the initial day of swimming competition on Thursday morning, Sept. 8. She swam in the second of two preliminary heats (Lane 7) of the S6 100-meter backstroke. Seeded 11th out of 11 entrants with her American-record mark of 1:38.67 from July's U.S. Paralympic Trials, Boyt improved on both her slot and her time, the latter by over a full second, going 1:37.22 for fifth of six in her heat, and ninth overall. That placement kept her narrowly shy of a top-eight spot in the final. She went out in 48.49 over 50 meters, and came back in 48.73.
Boyt was without a race for the next three days, before resuming her busy program on Monday, Sept. 12, in the SM6 200 individual medley. Seeded 10th of 13 (3:23.00), she touched fifth of six in the first of two heats (Lane 2), in a personal-best 3:21.10, and once again was denied a finals berth by one swimmer, placing ninth overall.
The S6 400 freestyle on Tuesday, Sept. 13, was Boyt's most challenging event, heading in 14th of 14 (6:20.56). In the first of two heats (Lane 1), she timed 6:23.45 for sixth out of seven, still improving on her slot ultimately in 13th overall.
Boyt saved her best for last, in her best event, the SB6 100 breaststroke, on Thursday, Sept. 15. Seeded sixth among 12 competitors (1:45.69), she made her first final at her very first Paralympic Games. Swimming out of the third lane in the first of two preliminary heats in the morning, Boyt timed a personal-record 1:44.35 for third out of six, and sixth overall heading into the evening final.
She held that sixth position through that final (Lane 7), timing 1:44.95. Fellow Colorado native and friend, Sophia Herzog, earned silver for Team USA in the race for her first medal, like Boyt at her first Paralympics as well.
After taking part in Sunday's Closing Ceremony, Boyt is now back with her UC San Diego teammates, with the 2016 fall quarter having just started on Thursday, Sept. 22. She is, however, expected to rejoin the entirety of Team USA, Paralympians and Olympians from Rio 2016, for the traditional White House visit as guests of the 44th President of the United States, Barack Obama, next Thursday, Sept. 29.